I glanced up from the newspaper I was reading when the door opened to see Jesse letting himself in. He gave me a brief nod before turning to close and lock the door behind him.
"Hey Jesse," I greeted casually, turning back to the newspaper. To be honest, I have no idea why I was reading it. Especially in a city like Miami the newspaper only is full of depressing news. Right now I was reading some article about some poor average guy who'd been conned and lost everything. Sounded like someone I'd have helped out if I'd known. Or had the time between all the other odd jobs I was taking. It was just proof to me that I wasn't even making a dent in making the world a better place.
The slam of a large manilla folder jerked me out of my musings. I glanced at the offending object beside the newspaper before looking up to Jesse questioningly. He simply stared at me. I had learned to really hate the fact he was a counter intelligence agent over the past couple weeks. There were times when I just could not read his expression.
I looked back down to the folder and opened it, skimming the front page with a frown. "This doesn't look related to Cobra at all."
"It isn't," Jesse said stiffly. I glanced up again, arching my eyebrow at him. He nodded at the folder. "It's related more to my burn notice."
Dammit. I looked back down to the folder quickly, pretending to flip through the pages. "Oh? Find anything interesting?"
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jesse fidget angrily. Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit.
"Stop playing games, Westen."
I closed my eyes slowly, forcing down the sudden rush of adrenaline coursing through my body. After a moment, I looked up to meet Jesse's hard glare steadily, setting my jaw.
"Well. I'm not dead yet," I said mildly. "I take it that's a good thing?"
Jesse chuckled humorlessly. "I guess I owe you the chance to explain yourself at least."
Oh, good. There might be a way out of this in that case.
"Ah..." I started. "Okay. Short story is; I've recently started working with the people who burned me. I needed some documents and was given an identity to do this with. Your identity. I should've looked into it more, I should've done some background but I didn't. That was a lapse of judgement on my part," I admitted, watching Jesse closely. His eyes were squinted at me and arms crossed across his chest. I guess the fact he wasn't reaching for a weapon was a good sign, but I was still rather uncomfortable. To say the least.
"That why you decided to strike up this friendship?" Jesse asked, still not letting on whether or not he was planning to kill me. "Because you felt guilty?"
I cocked my head to the side. "Part of it, I guess."
"The other part being that you figured you could get the information you needed out of me," Jesse said. It wasn't a question.
"Jesse, these people I'm working with wanted to throw you in some hole and forget you ever existed," I pointed out. "I convinced them not to by telling them what we needed is inside your head. Then they suggested torture. I convinced them not to do that as well!"
"So you're saying I should be grateful to you?" Jesse asked. He didn't sound particularly grateful. In fact, he sounded angrier. This wasn't going the direction I wanted it to.
"Jesse, I respect you," I said quickly. "I really do. I value the friendship and trust that we've developed. I'm not trying to lower you or anything like that. I'm just trying to make you understand that you getting burned was an accident and that you could actually have it a lot worse right now."
Jesse shook his head, lips pursed, looking away. I watched him while also scouting out for anything I could use to defend myself. I still couldn't be sure he wouldn't lash out.
"So why didn't you just tell me?" he asked finally, still looking intently out the window. I sighed.
"I was kind of hoping you just... wouldn't find out."
He looked at me with a grim grin. "Thanks for the faith."
I rolled my eyes. "Look, are you going to kill me or not?" I finally said, raising my hands in defense. Didn't hurt to ask, did it? "Because the tension is killing me."
Jesse's grin widened slightly with a quiet chuckle. "I guess not."
I lowered my hands, relaxing. Strangely, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Well. I suppose it wasn't strange at all. It felt good to not have to lie to Jesse anymore. I hadn't fully realized how stressful it had all been.
"Sam and Fiona in on this, too?" Jesse asked, moving to sit down on a stool. I grimaced.
"And your mom?"
"She... figured it out eventually," I said slowly. Jesse shook his head with a sigh.
"Course she did. So I've just been this little boy in the dark all this time, haven't I?"
I really didn't have anything to say to that. It was... well, true. But I wasn't going to just say that. Though I guess not saying anything confirmed it anyway.
Jesse was staring at the manilla folder in a sort of daze. I stared too. What was I supposed to say? So glad that you've learned this big secret and aren't actually going to kill me, shall we go for a beer? Yeah, how about not?
After a while, Jesse looked up. "All right, I've got a question for you."
I raised my eyebrows expectantly as Jesse set his jaw seriously. "These guys who burned you. The ones you're now working with?"
I nodded. Where was he going with this?
"Can I kill them?"
I grinned, chuckling. "Only if I can help."
A/N: There will be a second part of this consisting of Jesse and Michael going after Vaughn.
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